Michael Peterson

While his vertically stacked sculptures appear to the untrained eye as though waves might have tossed pieces of driftwood and stones helter-skelter on the shore, the actuality is very different. Peterson ponders at length on the way his individual objects relate to external space as well to the internal spaces between individual components…The unity and simplicity of the sculptural forms he creates allows them to serve as compelling visual metaphors for the essential order and clarity desirable in a balanced life. – Michael W. Monroe, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Bellevue Arts Museum.

Peterson’s work has evolved from turning bowls on a lathe to his current, monumental sculptures inspired by the geographic environment of the Pacific Northwest. Peterson’s organic abstract pieces are powerful in their artistic grasp of sculptural form and expressive texture. These sculptures are impressive examples of contemporary design, while also reflecting the artist’s reverence for the natural world. The artist’s selection and sourcing of wood is a significant step in his process of making. Every few months during the logging season in Southern Oregon (November – May) Peterson and his wife will travel from their home in Lopez Island, Washington (roughly 500 miles) to find the perfect pieces of wood. Peterson describes, ‘I’m committing to this material. I don’t want somebody to just send me wood – I really have to make that connection.’ From the pieces of wood the artist has personally selected, he uses a range of tools, such as chainsaws, gouges and special surface treatments to draw forth striking organic sculptures from the grain and structure of the Madrone Burl wood he works with.


Michael Peterson was born in 1952 Texas, US. Since 1986, he has exhibited in group and solo shows throughout the US, including Revolution in Wood at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC. in 2010, Craft Spoken Here at Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA in 2012 and a major solo exhibition Michael Peterson: Evolution/Revolution at the Bellevue Arts Museum in 2009. The artists work can also be found in many public collections throughout America, including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, NC; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

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